Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Dharma of Star Wars

Author: Matthew Bortolin
Type: Wisdom/Buddhism
Shepnerd Rating: 4 Stars
Shepnerd Note: This past summer I heard a pastor criticizing Tiger Woods for saying he was both Buddhist and Christian. The pastor said “Buddhism and Christianity are completely incompatible and opposite”. I didn’t voice my objection at the time, but I do disagree with the statement. Believing “only Christianity has truth” is to shut off so many ways God could teach you and talk to you. I don’t think you can be any two world religions at the same time, but I do believe you can learn a lot from the beliefs of others. While no one can serve two masters – you can serve one master in many different ways. For me as a Christian, I believe God put wisdom all over the world for me to use in walking Christ’s Way.

The Bible says, “Test everything; hold onto what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5). I am not Buddhist, but I practice meditation and the Eightfold Path because they help me on my Christian walk. As a young Christian, leaders kept saying I needed spiritual discipline – but never taught me how to develop it. Christianity kept promising me peace, but didn’t offer any advice on how to structure my life to have it. I was told not to act in anger, but no Christian book taught me what to do with anger when I felt it. I found some of those answers studying Buddhism as a world religion. I meditate (with my goal being “an intimate time with God” – not “Nirvana”), and follow what is wise and helps me. God has blessed me through this ancient wisdom and allowed me to know I can learn a few things from Buddhism, while still loving Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord of my life.

This book is a fun and witty text on basic Buddhism. Its perfect for people trying to understand what Buddhism believes and stands for – and its entertaining for anyone who loves Star Wars (Episodes 1-6 are covered in the book – yes, he even found redeeming features in “The Phantom Menace”). It’s a good beginner book though – people who have been practicing or studying for years won’t learn anything new. But it is fun to see the ancient principles illustrated by using Star Wars characters and dialogue.

His best work is on the Eightfold Path: Right speech, right action, right livelihood (work), right mindfulness, right concentration, right view (perspective), right thought, and right effort. He also does well with “the Padawan Handbook” – with Buddhist perspectives about war, violence, prayer, compassion and time.

It’s clear the author understand both Buddhism and Star Wars. He makes fun of Jar Jar (who doesn’t?), points out the humor, and shows the frustrations of joys of being Luke Skywalker. This book won’t make you a Buddhist or a Star Wars Geek – but if you are already one or both – you’ll like it.

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